Mental Health

Dementia Warning Sign: The Way We Walk Indicates Dementia Type

More people are developing Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. every year, with the current number reaching up to 5.8 million patients. It is the most common form of dementia that affect people at age 65 and older. 

It is important to detect Alzheimer’s disease early. It provides wider access to treatments or therapies that could help reduce its symptoms. 

Now, a new study suggests there is an easier way to identify when a person is at risk of having certain types of dementia. You just have to look at how they walk. 

Researchers found that people with Alzheimer’s disease as well as Lewy body dementia have unique gait patterns, or the movement of their body when walking, according to Mercola

“The way we walk can reflect changes in thinking and memory that highlight problems in our brain, such as dementia,” Ríona McArdle, lead researcher and a postdoctoral researcher at Newcastle University's Faculty of Medical Sciences, said. 

The findings, published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, come from the analysis of data from 110 people, who are either free of neurological problems or diagnosed with dementia. Researchers looked into their gait characteristics and irregularities. 

The people with Lewy body dementia and Alzheimer’s have different step length. Lewy body patients had longer steps but greater step time asymmetry. 

Alzheimer’s patients had a slower pace and greater step variability compared to healthy participants. 

“Executive dysfunction explained 11 percent of variance for gait variability in LBD [Lewy body dementia], whereas global cognitive impairment explained 13.5 percent of variance in AD [Alzheimer’s disease]; therefore, gait impairments may reflect disease-specific cognitive profiles,” the researchers said. 

The study suggests that analyzing step length variability and step time asymmetry of people could accurately identify 60 percent of dementia subtypes. It is not the first time that changes in how people walk has been considered as a sign of dementia.

A 2008 study found that people with the condition commonly experience gait disorders, like decrease the patient’s walking speed, due to cognitive decline. Researchers of the latest research aim to see another study focused on how gait characteristics would improve diagnostic procedures for such condition.

senior Health experts expect to see more people with dementia over the coming years, with the current rate of one individual developing the condition every 65 seconds in the U.S. Pixabay